Dear friends, family and followers,
Sometimes I wish I could just give up.
And I bet you wish I would too sometimes… ;-)
Give up going on and on (and on) about the climate crisis.
Stop banging on about taking climate action.
Quit posting things on social media that make my friends feel anxious, overwhelmed, panicked, uncomfortable, stressed.
I know I seem always happy, always confident, always positive, but there is part of me that is simply desperate to give up. To just stop. To walk away. To no longer feel the despair, the heartbreak and the despondency. (I’ve often ended up in tears talking with my husband about the climate emergency over lunch.) And it would amazing not to feel the awkwardness and social anxiety of bringing up the climate crisis – again…!
There are MANY times I want to stop caring, stop thinking, stop doing ‘the right thing’, and instead spend money I don’t have on a whole tonne of shit I don’t need but want, and jet off on multiple amazing holidays a year. For that moment it feels like it would be utter bliss, that my heart would hurt a little less and the weight of caring, acting and encouraging would be lifted off my shoulders.
It takes great reserves to keep on keeping on.
It takes great reserves to keep on reaching out, to try to think of new ways to encourage that magic tipping point of social change, 25% of the population[i], to engage and take action – any action. Because that’s what we need for change to happen – 25% of us, 1 in 4 of the population, of our followers, of our friends must act.
(Image courtesy of Yes Magazine, from article The 25% Tipping Point, by Tracy Matsue Loeffelhoz)
Those of us already in the climate movement know that:
- There are so many very real and legitimate reasons why most people don’t take action, even though 64% of us are worried about the impact of climate change and 74% of us are concerned about the impact on future generations.[ii]
- There was a time when we too weren’t taking any climate action either. In my late 20s I travelled around the world, flying from country to country, spewing out greenhouse gases left, right and centre, even though I knew about was concerned about global warming. Something in my mind wasn’t connecting the dots.
Why we don’t act.
In fact, one of the biggest obstacles preventing all of us from fully facing, properly addressing and taking urgent effective action on the climate emergency is our very own human psychology.
One climate podcast episode[iii] broke down the reasons many people just can't accept what's happening and why this is stopping us from implementing solutions. Antonia from The Harmless Kitchen[iv], summarises this really well:
And believe me, I’m not immune to any of these either.
Battling against what I’m hard-wired to think, feel and (not) do takes a lot of will-power.
I feel awkward and uncomfortable too.
When I raise the climate crisis in conversations, please know that I feel awkward and uncomfortable too. I don’t want to make you feel stressed, or guilty, or annoyed, or more overwhelmed. I’m well aware that you’re juggling 1,001 other things in your busy and overwhelmed life, and I’m saying to you “here’s another weighty ball that I’m throwing at you – catch!”, and you have to decide if you can juggle number 1,002 item as well, or if there’s something else you have to drop instead.
And I hate that I do this to you. I can see that you already have so much on your plate. And I’m asking you to open your heart to something really scary AND I’m asking you to do MORE.
And I’m sorry.
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair that since the 1970s & 80s the oil companies’ own scientists understood the negative impacts of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels, and very accurately predicted the effects of doing so, but the leaders of the companies went ahead and did it anyway.
It’s not fair that when 700 experts from universities and research bodies across the UK, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [v], U.K.’s independent Climate Change Committee (CCC)[vi] and almost every single climate scientist everywhere are ALL saying that for the world to have any hope of remaining below 1.5°C warming, there must be no new fossil fuel projects, and the UK government grants over 100 new oil and gas licences!
It's not fair that right now, today, real people like you and me in island nations, low-lying countries and the global south are already dealing with climate change induced devastation – droughts, floods, fires, landslides, crop failures. And to be honest, it’s happening right here in the UK too (to a lesser extent). The climate emergency is happening right now.
It’s not fair that the 40°C Summer we experienced last year will be one of the coolest our children will ever experience. [vii]
None of it is fair.
We didn’t choose for the climate crisis to happen.
But it is.
We have a limited window of the next few years.
And we have a limited window of the next few years to try to keep global warming to 1.5°C. (We might hit that ‘limit’ as soon as 2027![viii])
And the UK government (and most others around the world) is not doing enough to help prevent the worst-case scenarios and inspire others to take action. Worse than that, they are actively pursuing policies that ensure we can only move in the direction of 3-4°C warming, and an unliveable planet in many places.
Sometimes I wish I could just give up.
But I can’t.
It’s not in me to give up.
I may have off-days, off-weeks. I may need to pause and take a breath; rest and recover; spend time doing things that feel me with joy; and spend time with the people I love and make me laugh.
I will carry on.
But once I have rested and renourished, I will carry on.
I’ll talk more, I’ll do more, I’ll read more, I’ll learn more. I’ll keep doing things that feel out of my comfort zone. I’ll keep on having those awkward conversations. I’ll keep on going to protests, and pushing those fears of being arrested to the back of my mind and ignoring those butterflies in my stomach.
And I’ll keep trying to inspire others to do the same.
I’ll try not to focus on the 85% of people who didn’t click the link to sign a petition in my last email, and I’ll celebrate the 15% of people who did. And hope to keep edging that number towards the magic 25%.
I’ll keep trying to think of new ways to engage more people to take action.
I’ll keep doing lip-sync reels to trending audios on Instagram in the hopes that I’ll reach more people and inspire them to act.
And I’ll keep on pushing for systemic change – signing every petition I can, emailing my MP regularly, talking about our family’s eco and climate choices to our friends and family.
Because what is the other option?
To give up?
Should I let myself do that?
I’d love to know what you think in the comments.
With understanding, love, resilience and hope from my family to yours,
Endnotes & References
[i] https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/what-the-rest-of-the-world-knows/2020/11/03/how-social-change-happens & https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-behavior-spreads/201905/the-25-percent-tipping-point-social-change